Whether you’re a series newcomer or a Deity-level veteran, Civilization VI offers a lot to chew on. If you’re an absolute Civ virgin, the game’s thorough tutorial and adviser system are great for helping you get your bearings. Once you have the basics down, we have a few less immediately obvious tips based on our experience with the game that will help you master the particular intricacies of Civilization VI.
City planning and amenities
The addition of urban sprawl, which now makes buildings and wonders take up tiles on the map, has completely changed the puzzle of laying out your cities. Whereas before you would mostly be concerned with what improvable resources would fall within a new city’s borders, now it behooves you to really think through how you want to specialize each city, since they are limited to one district for every three citizens (unless you’re Germany, which raises that cap by one). Unique district variants that certain leaders have also do not count against this limit, and cost half as much to produce.
Familiarize yourself with the adjacency bonuses of each district type (we’ve been using this cheat sheet from Reddit user iotafox), such as mountains for Campuses and Holy Sites, or rivers for Commercial Hubs. Before you found each city, take both your overall plan and the particulars of the surrounding geography into account and plan where you want to build particular districts and wonders in order to maximize their benefits. Campuses, Holy Sites, Theater Squares, Commercial Hubs, and Industrial Zones all get bonuses for being next to other districts, so you generally want to pack them together as closely as possible. This is reinforced later in the game once Espionage is unlocked, since your defending spies on counterintelligence duty are placed in a particular district, and protect it and all of its surrounding tiles from sabotage.
Also of note, you no longer need to found cities on the coast in order to build naval units. Any city with a coast tile within its workable range (three tiles from the city center) can build a Harbor district to achieve the same effect. The Harbor unlocks with Classical Era technology (Celestial Navigation), and settling a coastal city does activate the Boost for Sailing, so settling on the shore is still key if you want to take to the sea early (if you’re playing as Norway, for example).
Two new systems limit the growth of your cities. The Nationwide happiness rating has been replaced by a localized amenities score in each city, and a new stat, Housing, limits how large a population any given city can support. You will want to proactively take both into account when planning how to grow your cities, in order to avoid inefficient periods of no or limited growth.
Amenities, the new city-by-city version of the series’ “happiness” system, can boost or hamper your city’s productivity depending on how well you “pamper” its citizens. Every city needs to maintain a net “Amenities” score of zero or higher to function normally, requiring one amenity for every two citizens starting at three. Falling below zero, which may occur after factors like “war weariness” and bankruptcy cause the score to drop, will slow growth and nonfood yields. Eventually, failing to raise your amenities score will lead to Barbarians spawning in your borders.
Conversely, high amenities can boost growth and yields. Every improved luxury resource provides one amenity point to up to four cities. Additional copies of each resource are only good for trading. The amenities bonus from luxury goods is automatically distributed to where they are most needed. Great people, world wonders, policies, religion, national parks, and buildings in the entertainment complex can also boost your amenities score. The complex has no adjacency bonuses, and several of its buildings provide Amenities to all city centers within six tiles, so take that into account when placing them.